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Wow. I just looked up “hogtied” to make sure my pun was working, and my goodness did I just get an education. Hint: in modern contexts, it has nothing to do with animal husbandry. Or at least I really hope it doesn’t.

chrisPI feel threatened by year-end lists. They make me feel inadequate, as with the Best Books lists, of which invariably I’ll have read almost nothing, or the Top Moments Of lists, which serve to underscore exactly how culturally obtuse I really am, i.e., I have only the vaguest notion of what twerking is. Though honestly I’d really rather keep it that way. I think possibly it has something to do with animal husbandry.

And there’s an artificial feel to reflections brought on by the end of the year. I get that the changing of the calendar is a powerful symbol, but it’s important to be reflective year-round, and to make resolutions year-round.

So in the spirit of full hypocrisy, here are some reflections and resolutions as we enter the final week of 2013:

I started volunteering at Asheville’s day shelter for the homeless in late 2012, but the bulk of my experience came in 2013. It was easily one of the best things I’ve ever done. I became a better person for it. You don’t get a chance to say that too often, you know? Once you reach adulthood, it usually takes a significant change (becoming a parent, moving overseas, going to college, joining the military) to force you to grow in a meaningful, lasting way. Volunteering face-to-face with people in desperate circumstances is a convenient shortcut.

In May I started exercising. I’ve been exercising faithfully since then, doing cardio and strength-training in addition to a bit of yoga. I’ve also been exercising with intensity: on several pieces of equipment at the gym, for instance, I am using the heaviest weight setting. And just last week I surpassed 300 pounds on the reclining squat thingy machine. At the same time I started paying closer attention to my diet. It had already been healthy, but that was when I began tracking nutrients and calories and weighing my food in grams. 

So the good news: in 2013 I got way fitter. I have more muscles and a stronger heart than ever before. Don’t have any bloodwork to back me up, but I am certain I have never been this healthy.

The bad news is that I’ve gotten fatter. Despite the blood, sweat, and tears (figuratively, literally, and literally) of my diet and exercise, I am pudgier. Some of the weight is muscle, but my pants fit tighter and my face looks puffier. This is not fair and I completely resent it.

For the first eight and a half months of 2013, I was unemployed, or nearly so. My only income was from some contract writing in library-land. I did not have health insurance or job prospects or a livable income. When I was not volunteering or throwing around weights, I was hunting for jobs. There was too little time for reading or writing or vegetating.

The plus side is that I was living in Asheville. Western North Carolina will always be home to me. I might deign to eventually acknowledge other locations as home, but they will be supplements, not replacements.

In mid-September I was offered a job as a Collection Development Librarian with the Mid-Continent Public Library. I had to leave my beautiful mountains and my nearby parents. In compensation I got to start a job in which I spend 40 hours each week buying books, movies, and music, in exchange for which the taxpayers give me a comfortable wage and health insurance and vacation.

I am still not really sold on the whole Missouri concept, but in addition to the whole financial stability thing, there is one other noticeable perk, only I’m not going to talk about it here so nevermind.

Also this year: I gave up my intellectual crushes on The Oatmeal and Neil Gaiman. I’m over you guys. Both of you. I mean I’ll still read your stuff but we’re pretty much through.

So that’s 2013 in review. As for resolutions:

  1. I will find a witch doctor to make me skinny. Traditional medical advice isn’t cutting it. Needs must.
  2. I will read more. (This year’s appallingly low book count will be addressed on January 1. Stay tuned.)
  3. I will write more. As in, I will write more for pleasure. For years I have been satisfying my itch for creative writing with this blog, but I need something new. I swear I have no idea how to write fiction, but that’s what I  want to do and that’s what I will do. Or I’ll stare at a blank screen. I don’t care. One or the other will happen.
  4. I will blog less. I want to to carve out time for more reading and more writing, but more importantly, I’m no longer sure why I write here. I guess it’s because sometimes I want to express myself in essay form, and the New Yorker hasn’t come calling for me. Jerks.

I have no intention of taking this site down. I like having the archive of my old writing. When the mood to essay an essay strikes me, I will post here — just maybe not too often.

I’ll definitely be back in a week, though, to publicly disgrace myself with the paltry number of books I read in 2013.

Meanwhile, Happy Christmas


One response »

  1. December 25,3013… We wish you a Happy Christmas and send greetings to your well thought out (and thought of) Missouri self! D’accord as far as the New Yorker lack of vision; someone on their vaunted literary staff should be horsewhipped for lack of vision.Your posts will of course be missed by many of us in the global bibliophile community nonetheless.
    Have a swell day on this 25th and may your days of reflection between now and the New Year be spent in good company and pleasant surroundings! out-4-the nonce
    Tidewater TGB


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